Key to the KDL-55EX723's success or otherwise against those cheaper, only slightly smaller plasmas is its behaviour with 3D. That's where it falls down – and not just because of the lack of 3D specs.
Our run-through of Avatar on 3D Blu-ray caused too many double images and ghosted edges to make this a candidate for a 3D home cinema. That's a real shame since Edge LED panels have generally caught-up with their plasma brethren in 2011 in producing highly watchable 3D images – including on Sony's other TVs – but here it's a bit of a mess.
Switch to a selection of Sony-made clips and trailers on the TV's 3D World app and it's the same story; sequences from Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows were cleaner and more watchable, but lacked much depth, while footage from the 2010 World Cup was just horrible; anything not in immediate focus was blighted by a double image; Capetown's Green Point Stadium appeared to contain 60,000 spectators and at least the same again in ghostly figures.
All a bit of a letdown, though there's little to complain about when it comes to 2D. Standard definition channels are really enjoyable, with the KDL-55EX723 upscaling well to produce plenty of detail, albeit within an occasionally noisy image. We watched BBC1's Football Focus, which was strewn with low quality archive FA Cup footage, and although we spotted artefacts the picture never once become ugly or unwatchable. On a 55-inch screen that's really quite something.
Hi-def channels sparkle, with a higher degree of detail and some awesome colours – 3D might be underwhelming, but the set's X-Reality picture processing is something of a 2D magician. It's the panel that's responsible for decent contrast – both peak whites and deep blacks – though it's the colour palette that reigns during Bad Teacher on Blu-ray, with skin tones sparkling, colours well saturated and subtle shades carefully melded.
Despite the 200Hz failing to help much with 3D, it cleverly prevents much in the way of blur or loss of detail and edge definition. We were also impressed by the lack of judder and general fluidity of sweeping and immensely detailed panoramic sequences in 24p material on Blu-ray.